A few years ago, I was dealing with some mysterious health issues. I was having trouble with my stomach. Having trouble with my skin. My respiratory system. My mental health. I was having trouble, and thus feeling in general like I was ten years older than I actually was. My stress levels were through the roof, and I was also having anxiety attacks. Then four words from a doctor changed my life: "Start where you are."
I have come to realize that my initial understandings about inclusive education and what it entails were wrong in that they were off-course as to the desired intent of inclusionary teaching. My initial belief was that inclusive education was okay, so long as it was equal. I now realize that inclusion doesn't need to mean pure equality.
To teach is to forever be a part of something bigger. Is to forever be a piece of that sacred puzzle which creates something profound from that which is very small. That is the beauty of the life of a child. To teach is to touch lives. To listen. To lift. To motivate. To compel. To inspire. To encourage. To enrich. And above all, to teach is to use one's life to make a difference.
Since all the blogging world is in a tailspin over Miley Cyrus and her antics on MTV's VMAs, it might be a great time to shift the focus away from Miley and the like. What kids need are adults who are invested in helping them grow their character along with their brain. Am I saying that Miley's family failed her? Not really. But I know this to be true: teachers can reach students and inspire them in ways that celebrity cannot.
Recently, I have learned about two teachers who, in different circumstances, have been restricted from teaching material they would like to teach. We ask teachers to be creative, informative, and to engage their students in thinking critically about the world around them. What message do we send when we limit what they teach? Where should we draw the line?
Our school lost a shining light this week. A little boy -- six years old. He, the lover of hockey, fishing and fun, was taken suddenly, leaving our school community grappling with life and death issues. In my classroom, I turned to the one sure thing I knew could shed some light, love and laughter on an otherwise dark cloud that hovered low. Your books.
Many university professors are great teachers. Many are not. I'm baffled that those who are great teachers are saddled with research. And those who are great researchers are saddled with teaching. More importantly, why do universities saddle students with these subpar teachers? Some argue that professors must be able to do both. Yet, professors at Canadian universities are generally promoted based primarily on their research abilities -- on how many publications they get, and how much research money they bring to the university. Teaching is only superficially acknowledged as important.
If anyone had told me three years ago I would be teaching kindergarten, I would have politely laughed at them. If anyone had told me one of my students would be my charming daughter, I would have (politely) laughed at them and then high-tailed it for the next bus out of town. The truth is, I love it.